Say what you will about the year that was 2017, but there’s no doubt it was a transformative one for women in the television industry. From all over the world, small corners to the biggest of stages, women started speaking up and speaking out against powerful, high-profile men in the industry, accusing them of sexual harassment, bullying and assault. An industry used to long-kept secrets by those working behind the scenes or who regularly turn a blind eye to topics that just aren’t talked about is fast becoming a thing of the past.
Women are done. The silence has been broken. Those who have taken advantage of and used their positions as power to harm others are finally being held responsible. The message that this kind of misbehavior, intimidation, discrimination and domination is no longer allowed is being broadcast loud and clear.
Behind the scenes of a television series is not your typical workplace. It’s a creative space where people are free and encouraged to regularly share ideas and personal stories. In the past, it’s been a place where behavior that would not be tolerated elsewhere was given a pass. As more and more women stepped forward this past year, with claims of harassment and assault going on behind the scenes, the idea of what passes for acceptable behavior is changing.
To go along with that, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s a need for gender parity behind the scenes. In the past, one rarely found women working in production roles. If there was a woman who had gotten an opportunity, they were often alone or one of only a few women in the room. Gender equality in positions is not the only solution to the industry’s harassment and assault problem, but it would be a huge step toward changing the culture and transforming the power structure. More women writing, directing, shaping and bringing to life stories would change the message and story being told, as well as the environments and culture from which they are made.
However, despite the transformative year that was 2017 and it being the era of Peak TV, there are still many issues with gender and diversity behind the scenes. A little over two years ago, The TV Junkies launched the inaugural round of our Women Behind Canadian TV series as a way to highlight women working in prominent positions in the TV industry. Since then there have been two other iterations of the series, in which women have shared their personal journeys and paths that led to their current positions, hardships they have faced or challenges they’ve had to overcome, and what they thought could be done to make the industry and its stories more diverse.
Each new round of the series has seemed to bring with it an increased sense of hope that things are getting better. Slowly, but surely changes are being made. More and more women are getting into writing rooms, and initiatives such as CBC’s commitment to increase the number of women directors on its scripted series are being felt. But what about beyond the director’s chair or writing room? What is it like for women working in other positions behind the scenes? That’s an aspect we here at The TV Junkies were eager to explore in our latest round of the Women Behind Canadian TV series, especially since 2018 has the potential to be a year where more women than ever are empowered to take on industry roles.
So while we’ll still be speaking to directors and writers who work on some of our favorite Canadian series, we tried to expand our reach this time out. This year we’ll also be speaking to women in other areas of productions such as stunt coordinators, camera operators, cinematographers, assistant directors and more. Stay tuned to The TV Junkies over the next couple of weeks as these women share their experiences and advice for others looking to take up similar positions in hopes of getting us even closer to shrinking the gender gap and make a move toward true parity behind the scenes.
Thoughts or comments? Share them below! Find all our coverage of the Women Behind Canadian TV series here.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.